Stroke patients may benefit from being subjected to mild hypothermia within 24 hours, according to researchers who say the cold protects the brain from suffering lasting damage.
Scientists from the University of Erlangen, reporting in the journal Experimental & Translational Stroke Medicine, noted strokes are typically caused by a blood clot in the brain that can result in damage to regions starved of oxygen.
Doctors typically break up the clot using a drug – known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) – but there is a very short time window when the value of the treatment outweighs the side effects.
The new research shows that in the first 24 hours after a stroke, mild hypothermia can increase the window of opportunity for tPA treatment to work and even reduce its side effects.
Researchers noted some studies have suggested it may be possible to treat stroke patients with tPA plus hypothermia.